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How to Use GIS for Designing and Building Infrastructure Projects - Addressing Property Legal Matters in Infrastructure Projects

Published on: 08.11.2023


An infrastructure object refers to a facility within the domains of transportation, water supply, sewage, energy, telecommunication, or other essential infrastructure. These structures often span significant distances and commonly traverse various landowner’s properties.

Before diving into the design phase, especially for significant investments, it’s crucial to conduct preliminary studies. This helps identify the most suitable route, and GIS data plays a key role in swiftly providing insights into property classifications and land usage along potential routes. This simplifies the decision-making process for the final infrastructure project route.

When planning the development of an infrastructure project, one or more areas directly involved in the construction process or serving its purpose are defined. These areas are ultimately consolidated into polygons that should be under the ownership of the investor before commencing the construction of the infrastructure object.

Additionally, there may be other areas used exclusively during the construction phase, such as access roads or earth excavation sites. These areas must also undergo proper legal procedures to establish ownership rights, either in favor of the investor or in compliance with relevant legal provisions.

To address the property legal issues related to the land designated for an infrastructure project, a land parceling process is essential. This parceling process will lead to the establishment of agreements for the acquisition or sale of portions of cadastral parcels that fall within the designated construction area for the infrastructure project.

Within this case study, we’ll explore some practical uses of GIS data in designing and executing infrastructure projects, specifically with SGIS Desktop software.

SGIS Desktop

SGIS Desktop is designed for precision in handling GIS data, serving as a valuable tool for various engineering and cadastral tasks.

In the following discussion, we’ll explore two specific applications of SGIS Desktop that are particularly relevant to infrastructure project design: route selection and parceling based on developed and approved projects.

Choosing the Right Route

This step is crucial in the process of designing an infrastructure project. Making a wise choice in the route is key to smoothly navigating property legal matters with the land, ensuring a streamlined process for obtaining a building permit. This is especially relevant for underground infrastructure or above-ground structures on poles.

There are two scenarios to consider in choosing the route:

  • When cadastral data is in GIS format – directly selecting affected parcels and brainstorming route variations.
  • When cadastral data is in CAD format – first shaping GIS data and then carefully choosing affected parcels while exploring route alternatives.

If your cadastral data is in CAD format, here’s a helpful process: start by creating polygons using the ‘To Polygons’ tool. After that, use the ‘Add Attributes’ tool to connect parcel data with the graphics.

In this example, we’re working with cadastral background and parcels [pparcels.shp] along with cadastral objects [pbuildings.shp] as the official records. On the drawing, point A-north marks the beginning of designing an optical line, and point B-south is the endpoint. The optical line involves a group of PE pipes in a trench, where later you’ll insert an optical cable from connector to connector or from connector to a distribution cabinet.

For a speedy approval to excavate a trench for telecommunications and lay PE pipes, in our case, it’s essential that the planned route passes through state-owned land, minimizing the number of private parcels it crosses.

To streamline this process, check the cadastral records. In my case, state land is in PLIST 92, 173, and 174. Select the parcel layer [pparcels], then use Attributes > Filter Attribute Data to narrow down parcels in PLIST 92, 173, and 174. Once filtered, use Select All Records to conveniently choose all the relevant parcels, and you’re good to go!

Let’s make things organized and clear! We’re forming a fresh layer for the selected elements and naming it DZ. In this yellow-highlighted layer, you’ll find parcels in state ownership designated as uncategorized roads and intermittent waters.

In the presence of state-owned parcels within the graphical representation, we proceed to establish a new layer with a polyline format. Employing the precision tools of ‘Pick Points’ and ‘Add New Element,’ we systematically generate polylines to represent alternative configurations for the optical telecommunication route. This illustrative example showcases the creation of three distinct route variants, providing a comprehensive perspective for further analysis and decision-making in the design process.

Route #1
Route #2
Route #3

After a careful on-site examination, we’ve opted for the third variant among the three proposed routes for the underground optical cable. The decision to choose this route was influenced by its passage through a local dirt road with minimal traffic.

Parceling Based on Developed Project

In this context, ‘parceling’ refers to harmonizing the cadastral status with the projected status and dividing all parcels affected by the infrastructure object according to the projected status. This process aims to ensure a clear and organized alignment between the existing cadastral situation and the planned developments.

Exploring the Third Option: Conducting a Geodetic Survey for Design

In this step, we’ve conducted a geodetic survey of the terrain based on the third variant. The project has defined the axis of the implementation route through key intersection points, along with a 0.5m width on both sides. To better understand which parcels are affected in this zone, it’s recommended to create a Parcelation Elaborate.

In our example, we’ve loaded the intersection points from the project and used them to form a polyline in the FINAL layer. Next, the Buffer function is applied to create a polygon-Buffer layer, specifying a width of 0.5m on each side. This zone is visually depicted as an olive-colored polygon in the image. Additionally, the axis of the route is highlighted in the FINAL layer, represented as a violet-colored polyline. This detailed approach helps in visualizing and managing the parceling process effectively.

Parceling is easily achieved using the Divide Polygons function.

Simply click on Divide Parcels to effortlessly divide the parcels in the parcels.shp layer based on the polygon-Buffer layer. You’ll find the resulting divided parcels neatly organized in the polygon-DP layer.

Click on “Attribute” to open the attribute window. You’ll find the options to Export Attributes in CSV format or Export Checked Attribute Fields in CSV format. This feature enables you to export the entire table or select specific fields you need in CSV format. The resulting file can be conveniently used in the parcelation elaborate forms.

When dividing parcels, you might end up with quite a few small ones. The software gives you the flexibility to choose and select parcels with an area smaller than a value you set. These smaller parcels can be either combined with others or left as they are. Furthermore, the software empowers you to control areas by summing up parcel areas before and after the division, providing a comprehensive view of changes.

Typically, processes for parceling based on a project are carried out using CAD software like AutoCAD or MicroStation. However, in this context, we’re using GIS software. The notable advantage of working with GIS software, such as SGIS Desktop, is that you’re dealing with parcels or polygons carrying their attributes, providing a more intuitive representation.

Handling property-related matters related to infrastructure objects becomes a quick, straightforward, and precise task with SGIS Desktop software. This translates to a more efficient and user-friendly parceling process, freeing you from tedious operations and ensuring a swift and effective procedure.


Kiro Gorgiev

Elena Gorgieva